Appropriating the Recent Past: Meaning-Making Processes through Time



Maracaná. If you ask any Uruguayan youth about the events of Maracaná, anyone will most likely be able to answer what it means. The intergenerational transmission of the narrative of the 1950 soccer World Cup victory has been passed on for several generations. This narrative centers on how the Uruguayan national team was able to overcome incredible difficulties in order to win against Brazil in Brazil. The Brazilian team was the favorite to win, being on its own ground and with 250,000 fans cheering, and having defeated all their rivals in previous games in huge upsets (e.g., Spain lost against them, 6–1). The Uruguayan team were the underdogs, but they played to win. The team captain, Obdulio Varela, coined a phrase then that is still remembered today, “los de afuera son de palo” [those outside are made of wood], meaning that the team had to ignore the loud cheers of Brazilian fans, and the comments of all experts who went against them — to focus on winning. After a heroic game that ended with Uruguay’s victory, 2-1 over Brazil, the narrative of the “garra charrúa”1 [Charrua’s-go-get-it attitude] was constructed. This narrative highlights team spirit and the desire to win, as well as the courage and fearlessness of the players. The Maracaná narrative contributes to a national identity construction where Uruguayans see themselves as confident, brave, and hopeful in the face of adversity.


Recent Past Intergenerational Transmission Transitional Justice Dominant Narrative Historical Consciousness 
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Copyright information

© Mariana Achugar 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carnegie Mellon UniversityUSA

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